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Baseball history unpacked, January 14

Billy and Catfish in the Hall, and other stories

Billy Williams

A wildly popular Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along as we review select scenes from the rich tapestry of Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball history. The embedded links often point to articles that I’ve chosen as illustrative of the scenes, from The Society for American Baseball Research, reproductions of period newspapers, images, and other such material.

You might learn something, but mostly, it’s for fun!

Today in baseball history:

  • 1896 - A Chicago jury acquits Colts outfielder Walt Wilmot of charges of violating the Sabbath law by playing Sunday baseball last year. Charges against other players are subsequently dropped, and the way is cleared for future Sunday ball in Chicago. (3)
  • 1940 - Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis gives free agency to 91 Detroit players and farm hands. Citing cover-ups of the movement of players within its organization, Landis hands freedom to Roy Cullenbine, Benny McCoy, Lloyd Dietz, and Steve Rachunok from the parent roster and orders $47,250 paid as compensation to 14 players. Johnny Sain is one of 23 players who will later make it to the major leagues. (1)
  • 1954 - Former Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio and actress Marilyn Monroe elope, getting married at City Hall in San Francisco where reporters and adoring fans mob the newlyweds. The couple, who had captivated the nation with their romance, will divorce just 274 days after the ceremony with the film star accusing her husband of “mental cruelty.” (1)
  • 1976 - WTCG-TV owner Ted Turner obtains 100% of the Atlanta Braves for $12 million. ‘Captain Ted’ purchases the club to provide sports programming for his local channel 17, but when the FCC permits the station to use a satellite in December to broadcast shows on cable networks, the franchise, now available to be viewed by millions of subscribers, will become known as America’s Team. (1)
  • 1981 - Frank Robinson is named manager of the Giants, replacing Dave Bristol, who was dismissed by Bob Lurie (Sam Zell’s business partner) at the winter baseball meetings in Dallas last month. Robinson becomes the first black skipper in the National League after having the distinction of being the first in baseball history when he managed the Indians in 1975. (1)
  • 1987 - The BBWAA elects hurler Catfish Hunter and outfielder Billy Williams (Cubs, A’s) to the Hall of Fame. The right-hander, an ace with the A’s and Yankees, became one of the game’s first big money free agents, and the Chicago flychaser established a National League record by playing in 1,117 consecutive games. (1)
  • Cubs birthdays: Hank Gornicki.


Thanks for reading. #Cubsnews